The Early Modernist Movement - St. John Vianney High School
1900-1930 THE EARLY MODERNIST MOVEMENT MODERNISM The Modernist movement is defined by the highs and lows of the US economy, global conflict, and a new, technological and diverse society. Shifts in culture marked each decade. WWI and WWII saw global turmoil unseen before. A second industrial revolution, a depression early in the century and then the Great Depression and Dust Bowl took America on a roller coaster of economic and social orders
The Jazz Age that followed WWI was a time of decadence and social upheaval. Prohibition although trying to curtail anti-social behavior, actually helped fuel the self-indulgence of the decade. Expatriates, Flappers and the organized criminals were new social concerns. MODERNISM A Working Definition/Modernist Elements A break with traditional forms and beliefs. A cultural shift and time of literary, artistic and social experimentation. A sense loss, disillusionment, and cynicism permeate the literature. A loss of faith in the American Dream.
Literary Heroes are flawed, disillusioned and bewildered, but are also survivors grace under pressure. Modernist Imagery is a sense that underneath beauty, serenity, success lies ugliness, turmoil and disenchantment. EXISTENTIALISM A philosophy that deals with the purpose of human existence. Human existence is at first defined by the collective but then redefined by the individual throughout life. *An existentialist believes that a person should be
forced to choose and be responsible without the help of laws, ethnic rules, or traditions* In a sense, individuals live in a personal vacuum and are defined by how they act and react to different situations, regardless of laws, religion, and mores. A Defining Question: Why am I here? ERNEST HEMINGWAY A literary Existentialist. A swashbuckling, egotistic author whose art imitates his life. Many of his stories reflect activities that he had accomplished. WWI, world travel, social isolation.
Felt a need to constantly prove himself and expected the same in others. His story lines and characters often reflect his own mentality. Manly heroes, submissive women, and adventurous settings and plots. SIGMUND FREUD Father of Modern psychoanalysis Introduced the idea of the Id subconscious, the Egoconscious self image, and Superegohow others view us (and how we view their view of us). These three areas of personality are
constantly at battle and constantly redefine who we are and what person we present to the world. THE LOST GENERATION A term coined by Gertrude Stein, this defines the group of artists and writers that were popular in the 1920s. Many of the artisans were Expatriates, Americans living abroad to enjoy the lifestyle, social, cultural and economic freedom of Europe after WWI. This encompasses a generation of people whose life is defined by WWI and the resulting social
turmoiljaded, disillusioned, lost, but with a new world view, unseen before. SOLDIERS HOME BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY Krebs is back from WWI a little too late to enjoy the heros welcome. Instead he comes home a broken soldier. He sits at home in his room, avoiding lying about his war stories. His emptiness consumes the family. He cannot love, has no religion, wants to responsibilities and cannot relate to the world around him. His father wants him to find a job, his mother wants to connect with him, and his sister just wants the
old Krebs back. In the end he contemplates just leaving them all behind. IN ANOTHER COUNTRY BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY An American fights in WWI under the Italian flag and is injured. He is recuperating with other soldiers but does not feel the camaraderie and considers his injuries less than theirs. This is an existentialist story. There seems to be no purpose for the soldiers rehab regimen.
The British major loses his zest for life and love after losing his wife. The Italian cant regain his former self. THE FAR AND THE NEAR BY THOMAS WOLFE Set in an indistinct rural area, the story follows the dream vs. reality context of modernist literature A train conductor after a long, dull career which was only broken up by tragedy fulfills a wish to meet the two women who have given him hope along his journey Unfortunately from the moment he entered their town he felt bewildered and confused and
eventually regrets fully his coming to this town. Dream vs. Reality THE LOTTERY BY SHIRLEY JACKSON Set in an idyllic little village, the story illuminates Jackson dislike of conforming to tradition. The irony of the story is obviously winning the lottery gets one killed. Mr. Warner represents the traditionalist, while the Hutchisons represent those who blindly follow that tradition.
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS BY JOHN STEINBECK Set in Depression era California, this story contains one of the few stories this semester with a totally sympathetic female character. Elisa: Wants to be appreciated for what she does. Feels taken for granted by her husband. She is somewhat duped by the Tinker, who exploits her need to be respected for what she finds important. The flower and pot on the side of the road represent her broken dreams and lost of esteem.
A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND BY FLANNERY OCONNOR A story set in post depression era South. The Misfit becomes evil incarnate as a small family travels through Georgia. Bailey represents the everyman, who is somewhat tormented by his morally righteous mother. He is the foil to her character but meets a very violent end. His break in character just before his demise, shakes his mother out of her normally superior demeanor. The Misfit is a counterpoint to the Grandmother.
He doesnt have religion or morality. She cannot relate to this and despite her protestations, he murders her too, last. This story incorporates the
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